Spire TherMax Eclipse II Heatsink Review

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Up next is a heatsink from Spire, a company that up until now has not been examined on my test system. It’s not that they are a new company, but until recently their cooling products have been more mainstream and not marketed towards overclockers. It looks like the picture has changed though, with high-performance offerings including four, five and even six heatpipes. Under the microscope today is the Spire TherMax Eclipse II, which is an HDT type heatsink sporting five heatpipes and two 120 X 25 mm fans. We will be seeing if this a high performance cooler or just impersonates one.

Spire is based in China based with its headquarters located in ShenZhen, China. They originally started in The Netherlands in 1998 and expanded to the United States in 2005. They have branches located in the United States, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Japan and Brazil. So they have a pretty extensive coverage of the world with their branch locations. Besides heatsinks, they also manufacture power supplies, chassis and enclosures, fans, and other computer related accessories.

Features and Specifications

(Courtesy of Spire)

  • Five (5) 8 mm all copper U shaped direct touch heatpipes
  • Straight lined heatpipes allowing air to easily pass through
  • 46 stamped aluminum wide fins for best surface rate
  • Dimpled surface fin for increased heat transfer rate
  • Black-Nickel coated heatsink to preserve killer looks from oxidation
  • Two (2) 120 mm BlackStar 9 blade fan design
  • High Quality, long MTBF Japanese No 1 ball bearing
  • Anti-Vibe universal rubber fan mounting (crews)
  • Supports AM2/AM3 socket 939/940/775/1156/1366 incl. Intel Core i7 Extreme 130w

Notice:

This review was delayed a bit due to damage on the heatsink from shipping. It looks like the package handlers had their fun with the package and when I received it, one of the bottom corners of the heatsink itself was bent. I had to straighten that corner out as best as I could, then check with Spire to see if the damage would affect the results. After they surveyed the pictures I sent them, they got back with us and said that the damage shouldn’t affect results and to test the heatsink. Thank you Spire for your patience during this process.

Also, the first batch of Thermax Eclipse II have been shipped in the older box which is missing the II on the box. But rest assure that you have received version II, you can easily tell by the black nickel color of the heat-sink. If the heat-sink is dark nickel plated you certainly have received version II. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Compatibility:

The TherMax Eclipse II CPU Cooler is compatible with the latest ATX boards based on the Intel and AMD Micro-processors sockets 775/1156/1366 for Intel and AM2/AM3/940/939 for AMD.

MSRP:
USD 52.99 / EURO 38.95

Specifications

Dimensions: Heatsink – 131 x 70 x 152 mm (L x W x H) 

12VDC Fan – 120 x 120 x 25 mm

Material: Aluminum Fin + Copper heatpipe DT base
Heatpipe: Five (5) 8 mm all copper U-shaped direct touch
Bearing: Ball Bearing
Rated Speed: Cooler: 2200 RPM+/-10% 

Only Fan: 2200+/-10%

Rated Power: 4.2 Watts
Rated Voltage: 12 VDC
Noise Level: 29.0 dBA
Air Flow: 93.3 CFM
Current: .35 Amps
Connector: 3 Pin
TDP: 150 Watt
Thermal Resistance: 0.091 oC/W
Thermal Paste: Blue Frost
Static Pressure: 3.35 mm H2O
MTBF: 50,000 Hours
Operating Temperature: -10~70 oC
Storage Temperature: -40~70 oC
Warranty: 5 Years
Packaging Type: Color Box
Net Weight: 0.822 kg
Gross Weight: 1.3 kg

Looking at the specifications and features that Spire gives us, it looks to be a serious cooler for some serious heat dissipation. But, one thing really jumps out at me is the TDP of only 150 watts. With overclocking today’s processors, it is pretty easy to get over a 200 watt heat load, so I am hoping that they meant that this heatsink was designed to cool overclocked processors that have a standard 150 watt TDP.

This heatsink is a true “out of the box” solution, with all fans and mounting equipment for any modern Intel or AMD system (including AMD socket 939 too). The bare heatsink had a measured mass of 723.7 grams and the fans came in at 123.1 grams for one fan and 125.0 grams for the second fan. The total mass of the heatsink and fan combination (including the rubber fan mounts) comes in at 974.5 grams, as checked with my Ohaus Model 2610 triple beam balance.

Packaging

The box the heatsink ships in isn’t any more delicate than other heatsinks I have received from other companies, so I can’t blame the damage to the heatsink on inferior packaging. You can lay that squarely on the company that handled the shipping, as the the unit came securely packed inside a decent shipping box. The heatsink itself (with one fan already attached) comes inside the box in a plastic clamshell which was shattered with one side of the clamshell basically was exploded from the shipping damage. The other fan and the mounting hardware are shipped inside the bottom of the box inside a cardboard container, which made it through the shipping with no damage. The fan attached to the heatsink wasn’t damaged either, fortunately. Also included inside the box is the installation booklet and Spire’s generic warranty card, which is nice to have but just gives general warranty information and the web address to register your product. The box itself is attractively done, with a window in front to let you see the product and plenty of marketing information and specifications being printed on it around the box and a plastic handle built into the top for easier carrying to the checkout counter.

Front of box. Note missing plastic clamshell that was destroyed during shipping.

Front of box: Note the missing plastic clamshell that was destroyed during shipping

Back side of box

Left side.

Left side

Right side.

Right side

Top of cooler box.

Top of cooler box

First Look and Installation

Once out of the packaging, we see a HDT style five heatpipe heatsink, with the five heatpipess running through the fins in a “V” arrangement on each side. The heatsink itself comes with a nice looking black nickel finish, but on my sample on one side the finish was worn off or stained in spots and wouldn’t clean up or polish out. I don’t know if this is due to a thin black nickel finish applied or if this happened during shipping, since the plastic clamshell the heatsink was in was pretty much destroyed and allowed the heatsink to move around inside the box. The fins themselves have a dimpled finish, to give more surface area to shed heat to the air being blown through by the fans.

Overall Look at Heatsink

Note dimples stamped into fins.

Note dimples stamped into fins

Note finish worn off or stained in spots.

Note finish worn off or stained in spots

The heatsink base itself measures 35 mm across the flat going against the heatpipes and it is 53 mm across going with the heatpipes, with a gap of roughly 33 mm between the two innermost edges of the outside two heatpipes. The heatpipes themselves are spaced roughly 3 mm apart, with the aluminum base material separating the heatpipes. The heatpipe fitment to the aluminum base isn’t bad, but also isn’t up to the caliber of fitment I saw on the Evercool heatsinks I reviewed recently either.

This brings up the first design flaw I find with this heatsink. An LGA775 IHS is around 29.5 X 29.5 mm, an AM2/AM3 IHS is around 37 X 37 mm, a 1366 IHS is 34.2 X 36.8 mm, and an 1155 IHS is around 31.8 X 30.5 mm. The first two IHS’s I measured and the last two I got from Intel’s design specifications. So what this means is that this heatsink’s outer two heatpipes won’t even contact the IHS of LGA775 and LGA1155 and barely contacts the IHS of LGA1366 and AM2/AM3. That makes the outer 2 heatpipes not very efficient as far as heat transfer goes, since they don’t have much, if any direct contact with the processor IHS. If Spire could narrow the area between the heatpipes down to .5 mm instead of the wide gap they presently have, that would bring up heat conduction efficiency quite a bit. Or they could make the base a solid copper base design such as Thermalright or Prolimatech does and have the heatpipes soldered to the base, making heat conduction to the outer heatpipes much more efficient also.

LGA1366 TIM spread on processor

LGA1366 TIM spread on HDT base.

LGA1366 TIM spread on HDT base

LGA775 TIM spread on processor

LGA775 TIM spread on HDT base

HDT base.

HDT base

HDT base with AM2 processor on top of it

Besides the problem with the base being too wide to have all heatpipes making good contact with the IHS, the finish was fine. There were very slight dents in two of the heatpipes out towards the edge of the finished area, but they were not very deep and they were away from the area of maximum heat, thus I don’t think they affected performance in any meaningful way. The base was flat on both axes, so they do not have a finish problem per se. Also, the dents just possibly might have happened with the other damage during shipping. The base did come with a plastic film appliqué applied to the base, so the dents weren’t visible until it was removed.

Nice, flat base.

Nice, flat base.

Flat across the diagonal too.

Flat across the diagonal too.

The instruction booklet included with the heatsink is nicely done, with it being written in several languages and is pretty easy to read and understand. The English section of the instruction booklet was done with proper translation and no fractured English. Spire did very well with this. I generally don’t see instruction booklets or sheets done this well even with higher profile companies.

User manual front page.

User manual front page

Intel instructions.

Intel instructions

Intel instructions continued.

Intel instructions continued

AMD instructions.

AMD instructions

AMD instructions continued.

AMD instructions continued

AMD mounting and fan install instructions.

AMD mounting and fan install instructions

Fan removal and re-installation.

Fan removal and re-installation

The mounting hardware that Spire decided to go with for this heatsink I found to be somewhat crude as compared to mounting hardware with other high end coolers such as Noctua, Thermalright, Prolimatech and Zalman. It is serviceable and it can be installed inside the case on Intel systems, but it’s just about impossible to install it on an AM2 board inside a case.

The mounting hardware.

The mounting hardware

The intake fan overhangs the first two ram slots on this AM2 board.

The intake fan overhangs the first two ram slots on this AM2 board

Mounted on AM2 board, bottom view, no fan.

Mounted on AM2 board, bottom view, no fan

Mounted on AM2, top view.

Mounted on AM2, top view

I found that the spring-loaded screws that they use for proper tension hang on the Intel mounting bracket, making it very hard to tighten the heatsink down. The springs would catch the edge of the mounting plate where the riser bolts go through it and hang, so I ended up going and buying some #6 fender washers to alleviate this problem. To compete against the top names in cooling, Spire should put more emphasis on perfecting their mounting hardware.

Mounted on LGA1366 using fender washers.

Mounted on LGA1366 using fender washers

Mounted without washer. Spring coil binds in hole in mount.

Mounted without washers: Spring coil binds in hole in mount

Riser stud through bracket shows why the spring coil binds without washer.

Riser stud through bracket shows why the spring coil binds without washer

Mounted on LGA1366.

Mounted on LGA1366

Mounted on a LGA775 Gigabyte board.

Mounted on a LGA775 Gigabyte board

Very tight clearance on LGA775 board.

Very tight clearance with ram slot on this LGA775 board

Fan hangs lower than the ram on this 775 board.

Fan hangs lower than the ram on this 775 board

Another thing I noticed is that Spire gives full specifications on the fans and that instead of using sleeve bearing fans they went the more expensive route and used ball bearings in their fans. Good job, Spire! The fans themselves use nine blades on the rotor instead of the more common seven blades. Plus, the blades have a highly swept design much like the Cooler Master R4 series of fans. The fans terminate in 3-wire motherboard connectors and come with sleeving on the wires, which is a nice touch and makes it easy to keep wire management neat and clean inside your case. The second fan that comes with this heatsink also has a 4-pin molex connector on it besides the normal 3-pin motherboard connector, much like Yate Loon does with their fans. This would come in very handy if your motherboard doesn’t have an extra header on it to power the fan with.

Spire's included fans.

Spire's included fans.

Test Setup

Since this heatsink uses some rubber mounts to hold the fans that are a friction fit into slots on the heatsink itself, I did not attempt to mount heavier fans such as 38 mm thick fans or the 120 X 76 mm Sanyo Denki compound fan. Thus, I did n0t test this heatsink at all with the compound fan and instead of the 38 mm thick San Ace 109R1212H1011 and Delta FFB1212VHE fans I substituted two pairs of 25 mm thick fans with somewhat similar CFM and static pressure characteristics to those two pairs of fans I normally test with. I tested this heatsink with the following fans:

Fans Size (mm) RPM CFM dBA H2O Static Pressure  

(in H2O)

Wattage Mass (g)
2 X Spire Fans 120 X 25 2200 93.3 29.0 0.13 4.2 125.0
2 X Gentle Typhoon 

D1225C12B5AP-15

120 x 25 1850 58 26 0.081 1.0 195.5
2 X S-Flex SFF21G 120 X 25 1900 75 35 0.15 2.88 182.0
2 X Delta AFB1212SH 120 X 25 3400 113.11 46.5 0.430 6.36 202.3
2 X Gentle Typhoon 

D1225C12BBAP-31

120 x 25 5400 150.1 50.5 0.60 13.68 running 

32.28 starting

213.6

As for the rubber fan holders themselves, I found them to be a more durable rubber compound than the ones used on the Transformer 3 heatsink and I did not have any problems with them tearing during testing. But, I also found that they didn’t hold as securely either and it was rather easy to accidentally knock a corner of a fan loose while hooking the fans to the heatsink. I’m still not a fan of rubber fan mounts on my heatsinks in general. I prefer wire clips or a fan frame for holding the fans securely. But this rubber mounting system did do the job, so I can’t complain too much.

The testbed system is configured as follows:

  • Case – In Win Dragon Rider. The 220 mm side door fan has been shifted downward to give clearance for tall heatsinks such as this one. No other alterations have been made to this case.
  • Motherboard – Asus P6T
  • Processor – Intel Core i7 930, overclocked to 4000 MHz @ 1.304 v.
  • RAM – Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600
  • Video Card – eVGA 7900GTX
  • Power Supply – HEC Cougar series S700
  • Hard Drive – Western Digital Caviar 250 GB SATA hard drive
  • Optical Drive – Lite On DVD-RW drive
  • OS – Windows Vista Ultimate 64 Service Pack 2
  • Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste was used for testing as I have found it to give good consistent results with no appreciable break in and it applies and cleans up easily.
  • All testing was done with the side door fastened in place on the case.

Test Methodology and Results

The testing methodology used is the same as I used with my previous reviews:

All energy saving features of the motherboard and processor were turned off to keep it from down clocking the processor speed and vcore. All fan control functions were turned off in bios to keep the fans at maximum speed. For processor temperature monitoring purposes, I am using Real Temp 3.46, with logging enabled at 2 second intervals. For room temperature monitoring, I am using a Fluke Model 52-2 and using a “K” type thermocouple that is inserted into the case front where the front intake fan is mounted. The Fluke records the maximum, minimum and average temps during the run at 1 second intervals.

Temperatures in my computer room were maintained as close as possible to around an 18 °C average during the run, as measured at the lower front intake fan by the Fluke. At the end of the test run, I logged the maximum, minimum and average temperature. The maximum and minimum temps are given as recorded by Real Temp, but the average temperatures have been adjusted to a constant 18 °C as derived from the Fluke average temps.

For loading the CPU, I used Prime95 version 25.8 using in-place large FFT’s and ran it for 30 minutes to stabilize temps. After 30 minutes, I would exit Prime95 and let the CPU idle for at least 10 minutes. The highest recorded temperature from the hottest core for each run was then recorded off of the Real Temp log, the lowest temperature on any core was recorded and the average temperature on the hottest core was calculated during the load portion of each run and adjusted to a constant 18 °C.

Each fan configuration was tested with three remounts of the heatsink, and the lowest average temperature run recorded, to minimize any problems between mount to mount installations.

The following chart gives the results I obtained with the fans listed above:

As you can see from the above chart, the stock Spire supplied fans give good performance right out of the box. Going with the AP-15 Gentle Typhoon fans actually had a decrease in cooling performance and the S-Flex fans essentially matched the stock fans in cooling performance. The Gentle Typhoon AP-15 fans were quieter than the Spire fans, but I found the Spire fans to be less noisy than the S-Flex fans.

It was not until I got to the Delta fans and the server grade Gentle Typhoon AP-31 fans that I saw an increase in cooling performance. And of those two sets of fans, I could maybe see someone being able to live with the noise of the Delta fans, but the server grade GT fans are just way too noisy and whiny to live with for everyday usage. Believe me, the AP-31 GT fans are a fan to stay away from if you don’t like high pitched, loud fans.

Now to see how this heatsink stacks up in its stock configuration against other recently reviewed heatsinks, we have the following chart:

You will notice in the above chart that the Spire TherMax Eclipse II sits in the middle group of the above fans in cooling performance. And you will also notice some heatsinks that I haven’t been using as comparisons until now. I had originally tested the Thermalright TRUE Rev. C 1366RT, the Cogage True Spirit and the Prolimatech Megahalems in my first review I wrote for this website, but my testbed setup had changed significantly since that review. So I have retested those heatsinks on my present testing setup so that I have more high performance coolers to compare with. I will be publishing an update of performance on those three heatsinks in the near future, but those are the temps recorded by myself on the present testbed. For the Megahalems, I used the stock Thermalright FBD1600 fan that came with my TRUE for stock results testing, since the Megahalems doesn’t come with a fan.

Conclusion

Looking around with a quick search, the cheapest I found this heatsink listed for sale is $51.99 at Silicon Valley Compucycle (svc.com), but it’s out of stock. Of the few places I did find it in stock, The Heatsink Factory has it for $54.99 and and $7.71 shipping Fedex Ground to my zip code. So that puts the cost at roughly $63 to my door. That pulls this heatsink out of the bargain basement category, but below some of the high-end air coolers. Since it is an out-of-the-box solution, you do not have to worry buying fans for it either. So in my opinion, this puts it squarely in the middle in the price/performance realm. You can do a little better for your money in some cases, but you can also do quite a bit worse too.

This heatsink comes with with mounting hardware to mount to any modern Intel socket and it also will mount to AMD systems from K8 onwards. For you folks still running an old socket 754 or socket 939 system that needs a new heatsink, this one is one of the few choices in town for cooling your older AMD system. The AMD mounting systems are a bit of a pain to install and you will need the motherboard outside of the case to mount the cooler, but the cooler feels quite secure when mounted.

On the Intel side, Spire could improve the spring retention setup. The springs hang up on the metal mount and bind, making it hard to turn the tension nuts and also bending the springs. The #6 fender washers did help a lot though and probably give just a little more clamping pressure. But I think the biggest change they should make with this heatsink is either narrowing the spacing between the heatpipes if they want to keep this as a HDT design or redesign the base to have a full copper baseplate on it in order to help distribute heat to the outer two heatpipes. I feel that if this was done, performance would jump from the middle of the pack to one of the top choices for cooling. As it sits now, only AMD processors will  have a chance of making decent direct contact with the two outer heatpipes, and even they won’t have full contact with the outer heatpipes.

That being, this heatsink did cool my test system well, and this performance does earn the Spire TherMax Eclipse II an Overclockers Approved rating.

In closing, I would again like to thank Spire for providing us this heatsink for testing and we appreciate you bearing with us during the delay. If you guys would put a little more design work into the base and the mounting system, you would have a killer cooling solution here. And I will be posting up my updated cooling data on the TRUE Rev. C, True Spirit and Megahalems soon.

– Jim Gautreaux (muddocktor)

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